Day after my last chemo. Believe it or not I slept very well last night. Today is my official last day of work for a while. I only need to put in a few hours than I can take my time off and concentrate on me. I need rest and lots of it. I feel like I need to go into hibernation. I’ve been running on fumes these past months and I really need a break.
My day at work flew by and it was over before I knew it. I felt some relief when I clocked out and left. No one at work really knows that I’ll be out. I’ve told a few that I’m taking vacation but they think it’s only for a week. After work I left and went to the district office to submit the rest of my paperwork. I have no idea how all of this is even going to turn out. I don’t know if my time off will be approved. I don’t know how things are going to be financially. I don’t know how my results are going to turn out when I do my MRI or how surgery is going to be. I don’t know anything at this point. So, I’m taking the leap of faith. I’m putting it all in Gods hands once again. I’m one of those persons that has always said, “things will turn out as they should.” I suppose they will, even this time. They always have in the past. I stress out about it for awhile but in time it always turns out how it should have. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, So I hope and pray it turns out for the best.
What a relief to be out of work!! Mentally and physically. . . phew
Looking back at how I did things, I’m so glad I did it the way I did. Keeping my circle (support system) small. Waiting to tell everyone was the best thing for me. Some people may not agree with that and that’s okay but it was MY choice. It was my choice to deal with it privately. Everyone has a choice and this was mine. I didn’t have that added stress of different opinions. I was able to deal with it peacefully. Not gonna say it wasn’t stressful trying to keep my life as normal as possible and I’m not gonna say the rest of my people wouldn’t have been supportive, because they have. But. . . . I’ve had a couple of people say that I shouldn’t have gone through chemotherapy. I’ve also had some tell me not to go through radiation, it’s the worst thing for me. Try taking this or drink that. Don’t eat this anymore. Take better care of yourself. WHAT THE HECK?!?!?! 😠 Let me be. Let me do what I think is best for me. What my medical team says is best for me. If it’s going to save my life than I’m all for it. Still, I don’t like what I’ve had to go through or what I still need to go through, but like I said before, my life and my son are worth all the hell I’ve had to endure. What worked for someone else may not work for me. This is what I didn’t want to deal with. This was the reason I wanted privacy. I did’t want that added stress. I wanted peace and I still want that. Please respect that. Unless I share it with you, I don’t wanna talk about it. Yes, ask me how I’m doing, I’ll tell you and if I want to share more, I will. Besides, I AM sharing it all with you. right here, right now. I am telling you how I’m doing and how I feel. This is my sharing spot, my therapy, my release. In person or anytime, I want things to be as normal as possible. Don’t treat me like I’m fragile, I won’t break. I’m still silly ole me 😜 with a great big heart ❤ and one that is OH SOOOOO HAPPY that I’m DONE with chemotherapy!!! ahhhhhhhh The relief mentally feels amazing!!! 😃 I CAN’T WAIT to physically start feeling better. Hopefully a week from now when my body realizes it is no longer getting pumped with poison, things will go back to normal. I’ll start feeling better, sleeping better, being able to taste my food. Soon I hope my mouth sores go away. It’s been almost 8 weeks straight that I’ve had those 😩. I haven’t lost anymore weight. It is holding steady. But all together, I lost 17 pounds. I can’t wait to have my energy and my strength back and to be able to do things without getting breathless and worn out. I can’t wait to take vitamins!!! I have’t been allowed to have those during chemo.
There are sooo many things that I can’t wait for!!!
Monday, Aug 7 – MRI
Today I go in for my ultrasound and MRI. Gonna check to see if the chemo zapped it completely. I sure hope it did and they don’t see anymore cancer. My oncologist no longer feels a lump but there could be minute cancer cells left over.
MaryBeth is here with me today. The support she has given me is amazing. It’s like having a sister. It’s wonderful! I change and wait to be seen and watch as MaryBeth works on a blanket. She’s GREAT at making blankets and quilts, that’s her hobby. We talk like if we’re not even waiting at a Dr’s office. I don’t feel nervous or anxious but we’ll see how I feel when I get called in.
Time for the ultrasound
I get the same tech that I got back in February at the beginning of all of this. I really like her. She begins her procedure. The ultrasound wand doesn’t hurt like before when she puts pressure. There is no pain at all. That’s a good indication. Before it used to hurt SOOO bad. She carefully goes over the area. I hadn’t looked at the monitor at all until she mentioned she couldn’t see anything. The last time, the image scared me, so I was afraid to look. So, when I finally did take a look at the monitor the only thing you could see, barely, was the tiny titanium clip they had inserted months ago for my biopsy. The mass from before wasn’t there. She called in the doctor to take a look at it and confirm, it was all clear. No signs at all of cancer. YESSSSS!!!!!!
Even though the ultrasound produced no signs of cancer, I still need to be seen for an MRI. They want to be sure. They want a more closer, detailed imagery before they give me the green light. So, here I go to get prepped for the MRI. Back into the noisy machine I go. This time they have me in a really awkward position and it’s really cold in here. Oh well, whatever it takes. It’ll be about 15 minutes. . . . . . . . . .
All done. They send me back out to a room to wait for the doctor with results. I asked them to call in MaryBeth so she can be with me when I get my results. After a few moments, the doctor comes in and also the ultrasound tech. He gives me my results. ( deep breath ) The MRI didn’t detect anything. It was all clear. There were no visible signs of cancer cells. He began to tell me that I had responded very well to the chemotherapy treatment and that it did what it was supposed to do. It was gone. The only thing that they could see was the clip. I started to tear up. With a knot in my throat I asked him, “So, there is nothing there? It’s all gone?” Him – “Yes, it’s all gone”. Me, choked up – “Really? you don’t know how long I’ve been needing good news.” Him – “yes, I know. Congratulations.” (he was the one who did my MRI in the beginning when I first got my news, so he knows) Me – “Thank you, I needed this.” Him ( handing me kleenex ) – “good luck with the rest of your journey.”
They left the room to give me a moment. MaryBeth hugged me and I started crying. I needed this. I got good news, I really got good news. After a few minutes, I changed and we left. As we were walking out, one of the receptionists that I have come to know, asked how it went. I gave her a thumbs up and told her, “good news” She came over to give me a hug and wish me the best of luck. MaryBeth and I started to leave but we ended up sitting in the lobby for a good while absorbing my good news. She was in tears. She was very happy for me but I think at the same time she was heartbroken. This was bittersweet for her. She lost one of her sisters to breast cancer. The very same kind that I had. She went through all of her treatments but didn’t get the ‘good news’ in the end. So, this hit home for her. It opened and old wound that didn’t have a good ending. So, she was very happy, yet very sad. We talked for a good while longer. A part of me was in disbelief. I have been so scared for months, it was hard for me to be happy. Yes, don’t get me wrong, I was happy but I had a very hard time expressing it and feeling it. Is that weird? Is it even normal? Even though I had tears in my eyes it felt like my emotions, my feelings, were shut off. I’m not sure what I feel. We hugged, walked out to the parking lot and got in our separate vehicles. We didn’t come together.
So, here I am, once again, sitting in my car. This time with the news that my cancer is gone. It is really gone. I am trying really hard to absorb this good news. 6 months ago, I was sitting here, in my car trying to come to terms with the diagnoses they had just given me. How crazy and unpredictable life can be. Cherish it always. The good, the bad and even the horrible.
I got home and one by one started telling my loved ones. I didn’t make this public, I only told my circle. Oddly, as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t get excited about it. I should be doing cartwheels and jumping for joy. Instead, I feel numb. There is no excitement in me. I think I’m afraid to be happy. I’m afraid to feel happy for fear of jinxing it. For fear of being let down. That’s the best I can explain it. Maybe it hasn’t hit me yet. Maybe when Dominic gets home from school and I tell him my good news, I’ll feel this excitement. I know he’ll be happy. But why does it all seem like a blur? Why does it seem like I just woke up from a horrible nightmare and the past months never happened? How come I feel this way? Looking back, none of it seems true. I don’t know what’s going on. My heart and my mind are at an impass. They are not connecting.
Later that evening, I text MaryBeth, “did today really happen? Did I really get that good news I’ve been waiting for?” Her – “Yes, it’s true, it happened.” How come I don’t feel it? How come I’m not as happy as everyone else, that I’ve told, is? I hope the Good Lord doesn’t think I’m being ungrateful. Because I’m not, I am grateful. I’m glad to be at this point. My son was relieved and happy. It’s been hard for him too. I just feel disconnected. It hasn’t sunk in.
I’m having some hard days. Saturday, 2 days after my last chemo, I felt great. Yesterday and today, my body hurts. It feels heavy. There’s a heaviness. I almost feel depressed, even with the good news I just received. Yesterday I was sooo tired, I layed around all day. I’m having such a hard time wrapping my mind around all the events that have happened. I’m trying to be happy, I am thankful but it’s hard to come off of months of chemo, get good news and try to get back to a normal life. I’ve had highs and lows all week. I wonder if other women feel this way?? Tammy says this is exactly how she felt. It’s just a combination of everything. No one realizes just how much the effects of chemo have on our bodies. It is literally poison that helps to kill the cancer. I think my mind and my body are just so tired, exhausted from everything. I should be ecstatic. I’ve finished chemo and I am still alive. Instead I feel down and my body hurts. My emotions are all over the place. I cried in the doctors office and came home as if nothing even happened. I’ve been waiting for that deep exhale, that release. It hasn’t happened. I feel that when it does, I’m just gonna have a breakdown. I really need that good cry out. I’m just having a hard time. When will everything go back to normal?
My surgery consult is scheduled for next week.
Even though my ultrasound and MRI showed nothing, I still need to go in for surgery to remove (scrape out) any remaining debris and the ’tissue bed’ where the lump was. It needs to be tested for any lingering cancer cells that weren’t caught by the chemo, if any.
Aug 11 – Today has been 1 week and 1 day post chemotherapy. I’m hoping that once my body realizes it won’t be getting hacked anymore, things will get better. My veins are gonna feel relief that they don’t have to get poked anymore. This will be the first week since March that they don’t get poked on a weekly basis. My arms can heal. I look like a druggie 😜💉 My hair will start to grow from this peach fuzz. I’ve lost my eyebrows 😢 and my eyelashes are thinning badly. This for me is very upsetting. I don’t like it *sigh* I still have mouth sores and my feet are still tingly. The hot flashes are still brutal for me. I can’t wait for the weather to cool down. I love fall. Soon, I hope, all of that will be a thing of the past.
I got this pain in my left knee, right at the bend. I’m not sure what brought it on. Maybe I tweaked my knee or something. It hurts a bit. I’m sure it’ll go away.
On a brighter note, my time off from work got approved. Yes!! That is a relief. It got approved til Nov. 1. That will give me enough time to get through surgery and radiation. Also, my bank is gonna bend a little with my finances. Phew! Oh and I can finally start taking vitamins!!! woo hoo. You know how excited that makes me? I can start building up my energy. My body has been so deprived.
I registered my son this week for school. I officially have an 8th grader! He starts next Monday. I’m so hurt our summer was robbed and we didn’t get to do anything. I always felt like shit and worn out. I’m not ready for him to go back to school and neither is he. I get time off and he goes back. Not fair.
Aug 14 – My son goes back to school ☹ and I will be all by myself. I guess I’ll just rest up. This pain in my knee has not gone away. I wonder what I did to it? I can’t bend it or try to get down on it. It hurts. I love to sit like a little girl, in a pretzel or bring my knees up to my chest. I can’t do that anymore and I can’t tuck that leg under me. hmmmm. . . what the heck?!?!
Tuesday – This pain in my knee is not getting better. I’m starting to limp on it when I walk and it hurts me most in the morning when I get out of bed. Did I twist it? Or am I getting arthritis in it? I think I’m starting to feel it in my other knee as well. What is going on?
I’m starting to feel achy throughout my body. I think my body is just sooo tired from being attacked. I’m starting to feel all the aches now. My ankles hurt, the bottoms of my feet hurt, especially in the morning. That’s when it’s the worst. By the afternoon, after my body has warmed up, it mostly goes away. I walk my son to the bus stop in the morning and again in the afternoon I wait for him, so I am getting exercise. It’s that morning walk that’s hard for me.
My older brother Jake came over to help me clean up some of the yard. I haven’t worked out in the yard this year but a bit here n there. It’s thrashed. Everything is so overgrown and bushy. It looks horrible and I don’t like it. Now that chemo is over and I start getting energy, I want to clean the yard, get rid of shit and also attack my house. We spent 2 days cleaning some of it but I have such a big yard, it’s gonna take a few more days. We pruned, raked, cut down branches, threw away trash and old stuff, you name it. I tried my best to help as much as I could but my energy level still isn’t there. I got tired very easily and it is really hot out. We didn’t finish but we put in a good dent. I’ll get to the rest of it when I can.
The following day, I almost couldn’t move. My hands hurt. It must be from the pruning and the shovel. It doesn’t help that I have pain in my knees and it seems to be spreading. I knew this would make me more sore but I wanted to get it done. It’s my fault. My body isn’t ready for this kind of work but I wanna get it done. I have a bad habit of pushing myself way too hard. I really paid for it.
Aug 18th – Surgery consult
Clara Sue and I come for my surgery consult. It has been nice not having to come up here for a couple of weeks. The doctor does a breast exam. Then, she goes over my ultrasound and MRI images. She is very pleased with what she sees. So, she went on to explain the surgery I will need. Since I was negative on the genetic test that I had taken in February, I get to keep my boobs. I do not need to have them removed. However, I will need surgery on the right breast to remove any remaining debris. I will also need surgery on my left breast as well. WHAT??? WHY??? When they did the 2nd biopsy in the beginning, I was told I didn’t have anything to worry about. I didn’t need to worry because that shaded area they had tested was benign. I have a very tiny benign lump on my left breast. I did not know this. She wants to have it removed because over time it could change from a benign lump to a malignant one. Wow. She is also going to remove a couple of lymph nodes from under my right armpit. She needs to remove the Sentinel and axillary nodes (3). They don’t have cancer but she wants to remove them. Okay, so that is 3 surgeries all at once. Not what I was expecting at all. We start setting it up. She is NOT pleased that it took so long for me to be seen by her. That is how I was scheduled. She said they screwed up and I should have been in sooner and my surgery already scheduled. There is a timeline that they like to follow and I was already beyond that. I should be having surgery now and because of this delay and her upcoming vacation, she can’t get me in until Sept 22. *gulp* what? That’s a month away. I don’t want to wait that long. Honestly, I’m afraid to wait that long. I don’t like this. I asked her if it was dangerous for me to wait that long. She didn’t like it either. She asked if I would like to be seen by another surgeon who could possibly get me in sooner. I didn’t know this other surgeon. I really like the one I have now. She’s been with me from the beginning but she did say that if she was having surgery, she would want her to do it. That made me feel better and I agreed. The doctor would be on vacation for 2 weeks and she didn’t have an opening in the ER till Sept 22. Also, that is the anniversary of the day I lost my Mom. I DID NOT want to be in surgery on that day. So, she set me up to see the other surgeon. I see her on Monday. Because of this delay, I have to wait 4-6 weeks before I can do radiation and I’ll probably have 4 weeks of that. So, we’re looking at almost Thanksgiving or Dec before I’m all done. *sigh* They weren’t lying when they initially told me I would have a long year.
Aug 20 – I really need to get out of dodge. So, I was happy when my brother and I decided to go to the ranch. We have a ranch in Ponderosa. It’s in Northern New Mexico. My Dad is from there. Someday, we’d like to build a cabin up there and have it as a getaway whenever needed. There is nothing like the mountains. I have so been needing fresh, mountain air and to get away from the city. I think it would do my son and I some good. To break away from the daily routine and a change of scenery.
It’s beautiful here. *inhaling* ahhh, smell that. No pollution at all. It smells clean, fresh and inviting. It’s a bit chilly but warm at the same time, if that makes any sense. We took us a nice good walk around the mountain and contemplated where and how we would like to do things when we start. Some of the fence around the property was a bit damaged where the elk try to run through. We wanna put up a pipe fence. I haven’t been up here in a long time and I have really missed it. It’s super peaceful and relaxing.
Dominic really enjoyed it and says, “Gosh it is so beautiful here! How come we don’t come here more often? I love it here.” I felt guilty. Other than my current situation, I didn’t have a good answer for him. We had packed some food to have a picnic out in the wilderness. It was wonderful!! I can’t wait to have a place up here to come to. Surprisingly, I was able to do a good walk up and around the mountain. There is a portion (not pictured) that has a pretty good incline. That was hard for me but I did it. My aches and pains don’t make it any easier but I feel I have a bit more energy, not much. I didn’t feel like I needed to pass out but I did need to go at it slow. We spent a few more hours there then packed it up and came home. I can’t wait to go back but I wanna be done with everything before I do. Back to the city. I really needed to get away even if it was just for a day.
Monday 21st – My aches and pains are getting worse. Maybe I over did it with the yard and all the walking I did yesterday. Can’t worry about that now I have an appointment with the other surgeon. I didn’t ask anyone to come with me today, so this will be the 1st appt I have been to by myself since Feb. I’ll be alright. I am a bit nervous. The new surgeon comes in. She is very nice. I like her a lot. She goes over all of my information and my images and what my other surgeon had in her notes. She really explained the surgery to me in great detail and I got a better understanding of what to expect. She looked at her O.R. schedule and has an opening on Sept. 1, if I’m interested. I don’t know anything about her but I really like her. I got a good vibe from her. Surgery would be next Friday, eek. I take another leap of faith and agree to switch over with her. I get scheduled for Friday, Sept 1. for a partial mastectomy (lumpectomy) of my right breast, surgery on my left, my lymph nodes and to have my chest port taken out. Yay!!! I finally get to have that chest port out. I’m gonna look like a mummy after I’m done with that surgery. That’s 4 they’ll need to do. sheesh. Since I’m already here she immediately sends me for an EKG. After all the chemo I had she needs to be sure my heart is healthy enough for surgery. So, I get to do that. Today is the solar eclipse and I’m gonna miss it cuz I’ve been here and I have another impromptu appointment. Oh well, this is more important but I would love to see something that hasn’t happened in YEARS!!
I get my EKG and instructions and check in for surgery. My heart is still beating like a champ. There was no damage from the chemotherapy. YAY!!! It’s great to know my heart is still healthy. Getting damage to the heart from chemo is a big risk. There are a lot of things I need to get done medically before next Friday. It’s a relief to know surgery is coming soon. I’ll feel a lot better mentally knowing the rest of that crap, if any, will be scraped out. My chest port will come out and all I’ll need after that is radiation. This whole journey is getting closer to completion. The one thing I’m not gonna like is not being able to get in the pool. After surgery, I’m not allowed to swim or soak in water for 2 weeks. Awe man! I have really enjoyed the pool. It washes away my worries and helps me feel better physically. When I’m in the water my aches and pains go away. Of course it wears off after I get out but it does help to loosen my muscles and joints.
Well for now the ball is rolling again. Here we go with phase 2 of my journey. I’m still waiting patiently to feel better. This Thursday, it’ll be 3 weeks since my last chemo. Soon I’ll start posting pics of the growth of my hair. My fuzzies are starting to strengthen up and my mouth sores have FINALLY gone away!! Good Lord! I had them suckers for 8 weeks straight. All of my eyebrows are gone and I’m horrible at drawing them in. I never draw in my eyebrows, never had to. My eye lashes are down to a slim number. Good news, I haven’t lost any more weight. I am still holding steady. I’m still waiting for the day to feel like ‘me’ again. I thought I would feel good by now but it’s taking longer than I thought. The chemo should already be out of my body. My feet are still very tingly. Guess it’ll take some time for the neuropathy to get better too. It’s been nice not having to stress out about work and I’m home when Dominic leaves and gets home from school. He loves that. My food is tasting so much better, my taste buds are coming back and it doesn’t hurt to eat anymore. I’ve been getting better sleep but nothing to get too excited over. I could still use more. Don’t know what’s up with these aches and pains but I keep telling myself maybe tomorrow it’ll be better. I sure hope so. I just wanna feel good. I know I’ll get there. . . . . Someday.
Once again, appointments are getting shoved down my throat!! 😔